South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet has approved continuing their existing council tax support scheme for the next financial year, while also preparing to reduce the parish grant allocation over the next six.
Cabinet members met yesterday and unanimously agreed to carry on with the existing local council tax support scheme (LCTSS) for those who fall into certain groups, including pensioners, war pensioners, carers and the disabled.
However as the LCTSS reduces the overall amount of collectable council tax, it can affect the amount received by parish and town councils. In recognition of this, the government provides an additional grant to local authorities by way of compensatory funding. However, this forms part of the Revenue Support Grant, which is in the process of being reduced by central government, and predicted to be phased out completely by 2020/21.
Consequently SKDC’s cabinet also approved a recommendation to reduce the parish grant allocation by equal amounts between 2016/17 and 2020/21.
SKDC corporate finance manager Richard Wyles explained: “For some parishes this won’t be a considerable amount at all - in the region of tens of pounds. It is going to impact more on larger areas and the towns.”
SKDC leader, Councillor Bob Adams, added: “All of us have been indicating to our parishes that this allocation would be disappearing in the fullness of time.”
At the same meeting, the cabinet approved a draft economic development strategy for 2016-2020. This will now undergo public consultation before the creation of a final strategy.
While South Kesteven has the lowest unemployment rates in Lincolnshire, after identifying that workplace earnings are well below the national and regional averages, the strategy put forward focuses on business, job and investment growth.
Among the priorities is to establish Grantham as a ‘leading sub-regional centre’, in terms of taking advantage of development opportunities. The key projects highlighted in the report to cabinet include Spitalgate Business Park (KING31), as well as the creation of a ‘Grantham Station Quarter’ intended to provide 3,000 sq m of commercial/office space and accommodation for 45 new businesses and 150 new jobs.
The strategy is to align with the emerging Local Plan, as well as the work being done towards devolution as part of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership. The council is also supporting the creation of a business-led Business Improvement District (BID).
“It is exciting for the future. We do need to get Grantham back to where it should be. It’s going to need a lot of hard work and a lot of vision,” said Coun Adams. “But I do believe we will get there in a realistic timescale.”